COVE and the Global AIDS Campaign

Rob Sobelman

Great strides have been made in the past few years to make treatment for HIV/AIDS more affordable and preventive education about HIV/AIDS more available both domestically and internationally. While the largest global change agent of the past few years is most likely the William J. Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative, significant contributions to the cause have been made right here at Colgate by our chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) through the Center for Outreach and Volunteer Education (COVE).

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, commonly known as AIDS, is a condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, commonly known as HIV. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1 million people live with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. with an additional 40,000 infected every year. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that over 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, 60% of whom reside in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an additional 4 million infected every year.

Kara Cooperrider ’08, Casey Emmett ’08, and Matt Inbusch ’08 founded one of over 90 chapters nationwide, the Colgate chapter of SGAC last year. One of the fastest growing groups on campus, the SGAC has had several successful fundraisers that have raised thousands of dollars for the Kenya Network for Women with AIDS and the Blantyre North Relief Project in Malawi, which will benefit from this year’s AIDS Action Week while also spreading awareness on campus about AIDS, which kills 8,500 people each day.

The William J. Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative is one of the biggest organizations effecting worldwide change through implementing large-scale, integrated, care, treatment and prevention programs. For example, the Initiative funds upgrades for medical facilities and hiring new HIV/AIDS treatment personnel, as well as assisting in modifying distribution systems for pharmaceuticals.

The newest addition to the global effort to buy and distribute anti-retroviral medicine to those afflicted with AIDS in Africa is the (PRODUCT)RED campaign created by Bono and Bobby Shriver. The campaign has several companies signed onto it that create and market (PRODUCT)RED specific items and donate a portion of the profits from those items to the Global Fund. The campaign now includes six major corporations: Motorola, Apple, Gap, American Express, Emporio Armani, and Converse. The campaign is poised to raise millions of dollars for the Global Fund to add to the U.S. Congress’ appropriation of $724 million for Fiscal Year 2007.

Unlike some issues of inequality or hardship, those afflicted with HIV/AIDS both domestically and internationally are receiving attention. However, the work by the William J. Clinton Foundation, the (PRODUCT)RED campaign, and the Global Fund are just the beginning of solving the enormous inequity in access to medicine and education. To take part in this worldwide effort here at Colgate, all you have to do is look forward to the AIDS Action Week sponsored by SGAC during the week of April 9th. The week will feature an exceptional schedule of guest speakers, special lectures by professors, brown bag lunches, film screenings, fundraisers, and a banquet.

If you want to take a more active role, I encourage you to get involved in Colgate’s chapter of SGAC now. Throughout the semester, SGAC will also be volunteering at the AIDS Community Resources center in Utica, which offers support and prevention programs for those affected by or at risk for HIV/AIDS, participating in national SGAC campaigns, sponsoring a screening of a VH1 Documentary about AIDS issues and organizing creative fundraisers. Through SGAC and the COVE, Colgate students are given a real opportunity to make a significant contribution to the fast-growing global campaign to change the way the world thinks about and treats those who have HIV/AIDS or are at risk for it. With the help and support of the Colgate SGAC and student body, these efforts will eventually close the medicine access gap and provide education to those who need it most.